As Europe begins cautiously to return to some sort of normal, it’s clear that, in the past few months many things have changed, writes Huawei Chief Representative to the EU Institutions Abraham Liu.
“For us at Huawei, one of those things is the level of political attack on us, a private company, by a Western superpower.
The period during lockdown has seen an amount of anti-Huawei rhetoric unimaginable a couple of years ago.
The new position announced by the United Kingdom earlier this week is a manifestation of the pressure put on it by the United States over the first half of this year. A coordinated attack to lock Huawei out of the global tech supply chain.
Let me be clear — the decision is not about security — it is about trade. It is a US-led campaign, focused on attacking a successful and trusted business, and attacking the technology, purely because the US lags behind in that technology.
We have been working in the UK and across Europe as a trusted partner for over 20 years. As far we are concerned nothing has changed.
Yes, we are a Chinese company! We cannot change that and, in fact, we are proud of that. And yes, we are a leader in our field!
But we are also a private company, modelled on some of the greatest Western companies ever.
We have observed the best of European and American business practices and applied them to our company, growing it into an international success story. That we have overtaken our competitors is not our fault.
Indeed, we represent the kind of innovative spirit that drives social progress. If there is any private company that embodies the best of both East and West, it’s Huawei. Europe should look to us to bridge the gap and create a joint vision for the future.
Believe me when I tell you — Huawei does not want to dominate the world. You do not need to fear us. We believe in a multi-vendor approach based on fair competition. There is room for everyone. Indeed, a competitive field drives innovation and progress.
And this is where I firmly believe Europe needs to stick to its guns and make the right choice. With the 5G toolbox, which we welcomed when launched, the EU has already demonstrated that it can take a sensible and forward-thinking approach. It has mobilized the best of its values and traditions to come up with fair and sensible guidance on how individual member countries should approach 5G, based on verification, competition and a level playing field for all.
This approach allows companies like Huawei to contribute to making Europe a leader in the digital era. But it also ensures that no single country or company can have technological dominance in the future. This is genuine ‘strategic autonomy’.
The technology we are involved in has the potential to transform the world for the better and do so much good. This has been demonstrated during the lockdowns, but this won’t be the case if the world decouples and fragments.
Europe should be under no illusions — everyone, not least Europe, will lose if this happens.
It is time for Europe to make its own decisions based on facts, and not allow itself to be used as another political football by those with their own economic and strategic self-interests. Let’s remember, U.S. interests — because that is what we are talking about — do not necessarily align with European ones. Often they run counter to them. Ask yourselves this, is it just Huawei the US wants to kill, or is it also Europe’s ambition?
You may not agree with a country’s government on many things, but that should not stop you doing business with a private company just because it’s from that country.
Punishing a company just because of where it was born goes against all the values the EU says it holds so dear, and that I have come to admire. After all, is not United in Diversity — the EU motto — the cornerstone of the European way of life?
The EU is founded on fairness, on equal opportunities, on the principles of the free market. It has led the way in the arena of consumer rights and protections. But where are those same protections for a company that merely wants to do business in one of the most exciting and diverse markets of all?
Europe, and its leaders, must recognize that this zero-sum game will be hugely damaging to all involved , whose connectivity is made possible by Huawei now. They rely on their leaders to make the right decisions for their futures based on facts, not fiction.
The future of Europe’s ability to compete with the rest of the world, for that is what we are talking about here, should not be left up to the strategic aims of competing superpowers. People are at the heart of what Europe stands for and it is the people who will ultimately suffer if calmer minds do not prevail.